Pointer starts strong at Junior Gold

INDIANAPOLIS - With a little help from the Black Eyed Peas, Addileen Pointer of Highland, Mich., put together a big opening block Monday at the 2010 United States Bowling Congress Junior Gold Championships presented by Brunswick.

Competing in her fifth Junior Gold Championships, Pointer, 20, shot 1,321 for six games, an average of 220.1, on the opening squad at Woodland Bowl. She had games of 222, 253, 234, 236, 163 and 213.

More than 1,600 of the top youth bowlers in the nation began their quest for $125,000 in scholarships Monday as qualifying at the Junior Gold Championships got underway at Woodland Bowl, Western Bowl and Expo Bowl.

One of the secrets to Pointer's success? Singing to herself throughout the block.

"I just try to stay positive and pumped," said Pointer, who helped lead Alabama A&M University to the Southwestern Athletic Conference title last season as a sophomore. "I put songs in my head and sing them to myself. One of the songs today was Boom Boom Pow (by the Black Eyed Peas)."

A state high school champion in Michigan, Pointer had her best finish at last year's Junior Gold when she ended up 31st. It's been a long road since her debut in the 2006 event in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

"My first year was in Fort Lauderdale, and I had no idea what I was going into," said Pointer, who won individual Michigan state titles as a freshman and senior and helped Lakewood High School to the title as a sophomore. "This tournament shows you what opportunities there are out there and it really opened my eyes. It pushes you to be better."

Each year, a new crop of first-timers compete in the Junior Gold Championships and Pointer offered some advice to those who got their feet wet for the first time on Monday.

"You just have to stay confident and keep a level head," Pointer said. "Everyone will have good games and bad games, you just have to grind it out. Bowling is such a mental game. If you miss a spare, you have to move forward because it's in the past. Never give up."

Qualifying continues through Wednesday with six games each day. At the end of the 18 games, the field will be cut to the top 150 males and top 78 females (all ties advance) for the semifinals. Semifinals competition, which consists of two six-game blocks, will be Thursday. The top 16 males and top 16 females will earn spots in the match-play finals, which will take place Friday and consist of 16 games of match play.

USBC plans to provide live video coverage on BOWL.com of the semifinals and the match-play finals. Coverage will begin at 9 a.m. (EST) each day.

In addition, the players are competing for spots on Junior Team USA. The top four male and top four female finishers after match-play competition will automatically qualify for Junior Team USA 2011, and the National Selection Committee will award four at-large spots - two male, two female - from the pool of athletes that make match-play finals.